Former president Jimmy Carter, and grandfather of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, was interviewed in Texas on Sunday and said he supports states deciding the issue of gay marriage.
“I’m kind of inclined to let the states decide individually,” Carter said after being asked about the Supreme Court’s recent decision to not take up marriage equality in its upcoming term. “As you see, more and more states are deciding on gay marriage every year. If Texas doesn’t want to have gay marriage, then I think that’s a right for Texas people to decide.”
But is Carter confused? Constitutional amendments voted on by people in states throughout the country are being overwhelmingly ruled unconstitutional by federal judges in those states. In Texas, voters went to the polls in 2005 and approved an amendment defining marriage as only between a man and woman. A judge ruled in February that ban is unconstitutional and now anti-gay Gov. Rick Perry and the attorney general, Greg Abbott, are challenging that ruling in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal located in New Orleans.
Carter sticks to the message he, and his grandson, share—that the government should not have the power to tell a church to marry a gay couple if the church’s congregation does not want that.
Same-sex marriage is legal now in 32 states plus Washington, D.C. On Saturday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced federal benefits would be extended to same-sex couples in six additional states. Those states are: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Last week, Holder made a similar announcement for same-sex couples in Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The former president’s most recent comments on marriage equality seem to contradict his earlier public statements.
In a 2012 interview with Huffington Post following the publication of his book, “NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter,” Carter said, “I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.”
And Jimmy Carter was praised by numerous LGBT groups for supporting marriage equality.
In March, Jason Carter, who is now in a heated race with Gov. Nathan Deal, told Huffington Post, “Georgia has a constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage. And so that issue from an electoral standpoint is not going to be a big issue in the race, because the governor is not going to make much of a difference on it. For me, I’m on the record with my positions on that and I’m on the record as a pro-choice legislator. But I also think that one of the things that folks are ready for is a different discussion of what it means to be a Christian in our politics.”
At the GA Voice, we weren’t clear with what that position was and published an editorial asking Jason Carter to come out in support.
Carter did, in an interview with Creative Loafing, clarify his position on gay marriage.
I have, for a very long time, supported marriage equality. … I didn’t understand [the Georgia Voice’s editorial]. Everybody who knows me knows where I stand on the issue. I haven’t had a conversion. My grandfather is 89 and supports marriage equality in part because of the influence we’ve had on him. I do think it’s important for people to know that no one in the movement is talking about telling churches what to do. But as far as the government is concerned, marriage equality is something I believe in and have [believed in] for a very, very, very long time since before I got into politics.
Democrat Michelle Nunn, who is running in a neck-and-neck race with Republican David Perdue, has said she also supports states rights when it comes to marriage equality.